How I'm solidifying music's place in their lives as they grow
The soundtrack to my childhood is an eclectic mix of classic rock CDs played on repeat in my dad's car, silly sing-along songs my mom passed down from her own childhood and the tunes I spent hours practicing on my keyboard.
Now that I'm a parent, I hope to give my children the same experience. But the reasons why I want to fill our home with music are even deeper than I anticipated—which occurred to me when I first saw my baby son clap along to a beat.
It was in this precious moment that it really clicked with me that music is about more than having fun or learning a skill or sparking creativity or strengthening emotional intelligence. Rather, the best thing about music is that it combines all of those wonderful benefits. Especially during these unprecedented and uncertain times, I appreciate that my family can rely on music to deepen our bonds, process our emotions and express our creativity.
Even from our earliest Music Together classes when my child was still a baby, there was a special opportunity to follow his lead. Yes, I could offer tools, instruments and encouragement. But the children were the ones who could light up the room with enthusiasm as they danced to their own beat or sang beautifully off-key. As parents, we knew we weren't just watching basic choreography or listening to silly songs—we were watching their self-expression flourish, confidence strengthen and coordination develop.
In time, the songs we learned in these weekly sessions became part of our family language. I will forever cherish memories of my oldest child singing "May All Children" to his younger sister or launching "All Around the Kitchen" when I was preparing dinner. Now that my oldest has two younger siblings in the classes, he shows such pride in helping them learn the songs.
I also love that we've been able to continuously engage in the benefits of Music Together throughout these past months, thanks to Music Together Online. With classes based on how children learn and designed to promote meaningful interactions between parents and children of all ages, these virtual Music Together sessions truly have become our most cherished family bonding experiences while social distancing.
By maintaining music's role in our daily lives even as so much else has changed, I've witnessed the growth of my kids' love for expressing themselves through songs and music-making. With every year that passes, I'm seeing the early skills rooted in our musical play give way to impressive rhyming instincts, coordination and patience for my preschooler. From the ABCs to songs that teach about other cultures, I love that music shines a light and drives my children's natural curiosity about the world around them.
But, perhaps, the most beautiful gift of music is that it doesn't demand perfection—even from adults. From a child's point of view, there are few areas where adults are still "works in progress." We know how to tie our shoes, write our names and throw a ball. With music, though? Joy is found within the practice.
My husband, in particular, is a skilled guitar player. In order to debut a new song to us, however, he first practices and practices and practices—often with his little helper by his side. During these "jam sessions," my son is learning that it's completely fine and natural not to have immediate success.
Our little sponge then feels free to let his guard down when we are singing made-up, personalized songs, banging on drums with reckless abandon or doing any of the other tasks in life that may not come easily on the first try.
In this way, music is a common ground between the generations of our family that offers each of us the opportunity to come as we are and be appreciated for the unique skills we offer. So, yes, the sounds of songs and laughter fill our house. But more importantly, love, creativity, acceptance, togetherness and joy do, too.
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